Small Business Information
Small businesses will play a critical role in the success of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program. This paid-leave program offers small business employees access to a benefit that has historically been expensive or difficult to offer. This will help small businesses compete for the best and brightest employees globally.
- This statewide insurance plan requires employers to report employee wages, hours worked, and additional information every quarter.
- Premium collection began in 2019 and claims for leave benefits started in 2020.
- Workers can take leave for qualified events for up to 12 weeks generally, and up to 18 weeks under exceptional circumstances.
- Premiums are 0.4% of gross wages paid. Employers may withhold up to about 63 percent of the premium from employee wages.
- Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium but are required to collect and remit the employee portion of the premium and abide by all reporting requirements.
- Voluntary Plans are available to employers who want to manage a plan internally that meets or exceeds the state plan’s requirements.
- Small business assistance grants are available to businesses with 50-150 employees, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees who have opted-in to the employer share of the premium.
If you haven’t read the general Employer Page, you should consider starting there. This will give you necessary context for this Small Business page.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees have requirements in Paid Family and Medical Leave that they did not have with FMLA. All Washington employers have requirements under this program with few exceptions.
The size of an employer will be calculated once a year. On Sept. 30 of each year, the department will average the number of employees reported by an employer over the last four completed calendar quarters. The number of employees counted will be used to determine employer premium responsibilities and eligibility for small business assistance grants.
If you employ fewer than 50 employees, you are not required to pay the employer portion of premiums. You are still required to collect the employee portion of premiums and to do required reporting.
A small employer can choose to pay the employer portion of the premium, and this gives these employers access to Small Business Assistance grants. These assistance grants may help small businesses cover costs incurred when their employees take leave by giving access to critical funds.
The process for opting into this program is still being created. To stay up to date, sign up for our small business newsletter.
Any self-employed person may opt-in to the state plan. This includes sole proprietors, independent contractors, partners, and joint ventures. When electing to use the state plan, self-employed persons must participate for an initial period of three years, and one year thereafter.
Self-employed people must cover the employee share of the premium and are required to work 820 hours in the qualifying period to be eligible for benefits.
For more information regarding self-employed persons using the state plan, see the RCW here: Elective Coverage – Self Employed.
Small Business Assistance Grants
Grants are available for small businesses to help cover the costs of hiring temporary employees when a member of your team uses Paid Family and Medical Leave. To be eligible for these grants, your business must average 150 or fewer employees. Businesses that average fewer than 50 employees must pay the employer portion of premiums to be eligible.
Grants of up to $3,000 are available and can be issued 10 times per year to a single employer. A business must apply for these grants.
A grant of $1,000 is available to businesses that experience significant wage-related costs due to an employee’s leave when using Paid Family and Medical Leave.
You can learn more about Small Business Assistance in the RCW here.
- Prepare to withhold premiums.
- Prepare to report wages and hours.
- Download the mandatory informational poster at paidleave.wa.gov/employers.
- Decide to use the State Plan or a Voluntary Plan.